The Ultimate Guide to Wagyu Smash Burgers


In my humble opinion, there’s nothing more satisfying than a smash burger. And when that burger is made with mouthwatering Wagyu beef, it takes the flavor to a whole new level. Prepare to be amazed as we delve into the secrets of creating these extraordinary burgers with minimal effort. We’ll also explore two delectable ways to top them, one savory and one sweet. Fair warning, though – once you’ve tasted the magic of Wagyu, regular beef may never quite compare! Just take a look at this tantalizing image to get a sense of what awaits you.

Three wagyu burgers with a beer

What Makes Wagyu Beef Special?

Let’s start by understanding the essence of Wagyu beef. This particular type of Japanese cow possesses unique genetics that result in the incredible marbling and flavor that Wagyu is renowned for. The fat is marvelously distributed within the muscle itself, rather than forming a layer on the outside. The result is a buttery-textured, melt-in-your-mouth experience that is unparalleled. The rich and luxurious taste of Wagyu has a sweetness that sets it apart from any other beef you’ve ever tried.

Raw wagyu beef with lots of marbling

Now, what truly sets Wagyu apart is the exceptional care given to the cows. These animals lead blissful lives, with farmers dedicated to ensuring they are never stressed. Stress in cows can negatively impact the meat’s quality due to the release of cortisol. If you’d like to learn more about the fascinating world of Wagyu, I highly recommend reading this article by Mary Squillance.

American Wagyu: A Unique Combination

You may have heard of American Wagyu, which is the result of crossbreeding Japanese Wagyu with American Angus cattle. While it may not possess the same level of richness as purebred Wagyu, it is still incredibly delicious and flavorful.

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The Quality Rating: Wagyu A5

When it comes to rating the quality of Wagyu beef, the Japanese government has devised a system known as Wagyu A5. This rating represents the absolute pinnacle of Wagyu beef quality.

The Distinction Between Wagyu and Kobe Beef

Now here’s an interesting fact: Kobe beef is actually a type of Wagyu beef. Wagyu is an umbrella term encompassing four different breeds of Japanese cattle – Japanese Brown, Japanese Black, Japanese Poll, and Japanese Shorthorn. Kobe beef specifically refers to the meat from Japanese Black breed cattle, renowned for its stringent production standards. These cattle are exclusively raised in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture, with Kobe as the capital city. Think of it as similar to how certain wines are designated by specific regions and grape varieties. For example, Brunello can only be grown in Tuscany using Sangiovese grapes and must be aged in oak for two years before release.

While some people use “Wagyu” and “Kobe” interchangeably, it’s important to note that certified Kobe beef is relatively rare and not easily accessible. Only 36 restaurants in the United States serve certified Kobe beef.

The Cost of Wagyu Beef

As you may already suspect, Wagyu beef falls into the category of luxury foods, much like fresh truffles. It represents the pinnacle of high-end dining and comes with a price tag to match. With costs reaching upwards of $200 per pound, Wagyu beef is an investment. The extensive process involved in raising Wagyu beef includes ensuring the happiness of the cows, genetic testing, government regulations, and providing premium-quality feed.

When it comes to ground Wagyu, it is typically American or Canadian Wagyu, meaning it has been crossbred with local cattle breeds. Despite this crossbreeding, the resulting meat remains exquisitely tender, flavorful, and incredibly delicious.

Ingredients to Make the Perfect Wagyu Smash Burgers

Let’s get down to business and discuss the key ingredients you’ll need for crafting these unforgettable burgers:

  • Ground American/Canadian Wagyu beef
  • Salt and pepper
  • Hamburger buns
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Our focus here is to allow the beef to shine, so we’re keeping the ingredient list minimal. It’s all about savoring the unparalleled flavors of Wagyu.

Wagyu burger ingredients (beef, salt, pepper, buns)

Cooking Techniques for Wagyu Burgers

Now that we have our ingredients ready, let’s explore two different cooking methods: the smash burger method and the grill method.

Smash Burger Method

  1. Preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. No need to add any extra fat – the burgers will take care of that themselves.
  2. Divide your ground Wagyu into four equal portions and form them into balls.
  3. Place two balls in the heated skillet at a time. Take a clean can (such as a can of navy beans) and use it to flatten the burgers as much as possible.

Two round patties in a cast-iron skillet

  1. Let the burgers cook until a crust forms on one side, then flip them. Cook for an additional five minutes or until the desired level of doneness is reached. To ensure proper cooking, I highly recommend using a meat thermometer.
  2. Once flipped, layer your preferred cheese on the burgers. Cover the skillet to allow the cheese to melt.
  3. Remove the burgers from the skillet and top them according to your personal preference. You’ll find some topping suggestions below.

Grill Method

  1. Preheat your BBQ to medium-high heat, ensuring the grill is clean and ready for use.
  2. Divide your Wagyu beef into four equal-sized patties.
  3. Place the patties on the grill and closely monitor them. The high fat content of Wagyu beef means they may flare up or catch fire easily.
  4. Cook each side for approximately five minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).
  5. Once cooked, remove the burgers from the grill and prepare to add the toppings of your choice.

Delicious Topping Ideas for Wagyu Smash Burgers

Caramelized Onion, Blue Cheese, and Arugula

This classic combination offers a harmonious balance of flavors. The caramelized onions provide sweetness, the arugula adds a touch of bitterness, the blue cheese brings a salty kick, and of course, the star of the show remains the succulent Wagyu beef. Trust me, this combination is an explosion of tastiness. However, if you prefer something simpler that truly allows the beef to shine, keep reading for another delectable option.

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Truffle Aioli, Old Cheddar, and Arugula

Prepare for an umami overload with this extraordinary topping combination. Truffle and Wagyu are a match made in culinary heaven, while the old cheddar adds a sharp savory note that keeps every bite interesting. To create the truffle aioli, you’ll need an immersion blender. Believe me, this combination will take your Wagyu smash burgers to the next level of decadence.

A Wagyu smash burger with arugula, cheese, and truffle oil

Perfect Pairings: What to Serve with Wagyu Smash Burgers

To complement the richness and decadence of Wagyu beef, let’s go all out with the side dishes.

Wine Pairings

A smooth and elegant red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah, makes an ideal accompaniment to Wagyu smash burgers. These wines present a perfect balance of sweetness and savory notes that harmonize beautifully with the flavors of the beef.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What makes Wagyu beef so special?
A: Wagyu beef possesses unique genetics that result in outstanding marbling and an unparalleled flavor. The cows are also incredibly well cared for, ensuring their happiness and ultimately improving the quality of the meat.

Q: How does Wagyu differ from Kobe beef?
A: Kobe beef is a type of Wagyu beef. Whereas Wagyu refers to four breeds of Japanese cattle, Kobe comes exclusively from the Japanese Black breed and adheres to strict production standards. Certified Kobe beef is relatively rare and can be found in only a limited number of restaurants in the U.S.

Q: Why is Wagyu beef so expensive?
A: Wagyu beef falls into the category of luxury foods due to the extensive care and attention given to the cows throughout their lives. The process involves genetic testing, government regulations, and high-quality feed. These factors contribute to the premium price of Wagyu beef.


Congratulations! You are now armed with all the knowledge and guidance needed to create the ultimate Wagyu smash burgers. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different toppings and flavors to suit your personal preferences. Remember, the star of the show is the extraordinary Wagyu beef, so let it take center stage. Get ready to embark on a culinary adventure that will leave your taste buds forever grateful.

Now, gather your ingredients, fire up the grill or heat up the skillet, and prepare to savor every bite of these phenomenal Wagyu smash burgers.

To learn more about Wagyu beef and discover additional recipes, visit Hook’d Up Bar and Grill.

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